Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition: Cerisano, Italy

January, 2018

Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition is my first solo exhibition in Italy, which opened 5th January, in the stunning Palazzo Sersale in Cerisano, and runs until the 15th January. 

Some background on exhibitions

Although I’ve been involved with group exhibitions since 2012, which are much easier to be a part of, my first solo exhibition was in Australia back in 2014 – held the Image Earth Photographic Exhibition in the beautiful Cleveland Lighthouse Gallery venue, in Queensland.

Cerisano, Calabria, southern Italy, EuropeAs you can imagine, there is a lot more work and stress when you hold a solo exhibition, but the good part is that you have complete control over everything. So, anything that goes wrong is your own fault.

This solo exhibition is a little different as all I am required to do is select my images, submit these to the already selected printing company, then hang the images at the Palazzo Sersale. I didn’t see the physical printed photos until I was ready to hang them, which is quite stressful. As an artist I lost complete control over this part of the exhibition, which for me is one of the most important aspects – quality of my work.

Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition, Exit&Friends, Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Beautiful ancient court yard

I think that for any artist it’s quite daunting to hold an exhibition for the main reason that you’re putting your heart out there to be scrutinised, subjectively. And, although I welcome constructive criticism as this helps me to improve my work greatly, it’s raw to hear people’s opinions. I know of many artists that don’t like to take the next step of exhibiting their work, as it’s either too stressful or too painful.

I would love to hear from other artists out there as to how you cope when exhibiting.

In the beginning…

You may be asking how this exhibition in Italy came about? I have to admit, it’s purely from a chance meeting.

Whilst taking my old time friend that lives on a boat visiting Italy around the Castello Svevo in Cosenza, started chatting to Erika from Piano B – Event Project Management about photography.

Leaving my business card for Erika to check out my work on Nilla’s Photography site, I also followed up with an email. A lot of interest was shown in my work and the rest as they say, is history.

Initially, an exhibition at the castle for International Women’s Day in March 2017 was decided. As this didn’t happen, other dates throughout the year discussed until the exhibition was incorporated with the winter Exit & Friends festival at Palazzo Sersale in Cerisano. And, what a stunning space for my exhibition in this fourteenth-century gorgeous building.

I am very grateful to the Mayor of Cerisano: Lucio Di Gioia for this opportunity and support. Take a peek at this elegant venue (Video credit: hallo bunny)…


Allocated an area at the Palazzo Sersale, measuring up the space to later work out number of images and sizes that would best fit the space, is the easy part.

Choosing the size of images for a space, I like to use masking tape on my floor to mark out the actual size of the space with a couple of different photo sizes; especially if it’s a group exhibition, which typically restricts the size of a space.

As this is a solo exhibition and I have a lot more area, then all I need to do is work out the distance between images, physical sizes that best suits the space, and the number of images.

Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition, Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Official Program

Selecting photographs – my hardest task

I find that selecting appropriate photographs for an exhibition is the very hardest thing that I struggle with; does anyone else have this problem?

I deliberate on what to select from the many thousands of photos that my external drive now holds, to suit the exhibition theme.

It’s a lot harder if the exhibition’s theme is quite liberal, although I still find it difficult selecting photos around a theme. I’m never sure what people want to see but as an elderly chap mentioned at this exhibition: “It’s up to you as an artist to select what you want people to see, not the other way around – it’s your work.” Is he right?

I want my audience to see and experience the emotion of what I saw and how I felt, whilst taking a particular photo in a particular place. This is also the reason why I do very minimal post-production. I want to retain the integrity of my image so that anyone that’s viewing the image knows that it is real and not just “created” with software, which happens too often these days.

Sadly, I feel that the art of Photography is morphing itself into the art of Digital Art, and the true meaning of photography is becoming extinct. I’m not adverse to digital art, but strongly believe that the artist should be honest and true to people and advise it’s digital art.

But I digress…

Of course, the size dictates the image to select for an exhibition. Especially as I also still take 35mm film photos. For this exhibition, I selected 24 digital and negative images, although I only needed 17 images.


For this exhibition, Piano B – Event Project Management organised the printing of my work.

As I’ve never had anything printed from Spot Channel in Rende, I was quite nervous as to the quality of printing. Let’s face it, there are both good and bad print labs. The images are to be printed on 60 cm x 90 cm Forex Foam Board and in Pearl (not gloss). The sharpness must be perfect.

Together with Cosimo from Spot Channel, we reduced the 24 images to 17 and decided that the photos scanned from negatives are not optimal quality for such an enlargement. Sadly, my negatives are back in Australia and at the time, the print lab in Australia did not scan the negatives at the highest quality.


With hanging of my work scheduled for the 3rd as the exhibition opening is on the 5th, I was pleasantly surprised when I first saw my photos from the print lab. Apart from a couple that are a tad on the dark side, the rest are of a good quality printing.

Another little stressful surprise was that on the actual day of hanging, I was advised that the upstairs measured room changed. The room would now be downstairs and in a much smaller room. Great! Not what I wanted to hear two days prior to the opening.

As the exhibition’s opening is a cultural evening and incorporates a book signing, much live music, cooking demonstrations, food and wine, all these events require housing in separate rooms. This was the main reason to change the upstairs room to downstairs, so that everything could be on the same level – makes sense.

After much deciding of where each event should take place, I was allocated one large room and two smaller rooms. Finally, we set to work and placed the images against the wall to where everyone thought were the best places.

Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition, Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Getting a feel – Room 1
Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition, Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Other side – Room 1
Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition, Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Bird’s eye view – Rooms 1, 2, & 3

Hanging everything took about a couple of hours.

Although the captions are printed on cardboard, they look quite tacky as the stone wall is impregnating through, and now resembles Braille. Also, the captions are only in English so no good to an Italian audience. I decided to reprint the captions on sticky labels, which are stuck to 3 mm Foamcore, and to also include Italian translation.

Opening night

I had worked myself up into a bit of a state as I thought I would have to give a four-minute speech that I had prepared. I’m woeful at public speaking and really don’t enjoy standing up in front of a bunch of people. A couple of Gin & Tonics helped to calm my nerves before leaving for Cerisano.

Exit & Friends Arte e Musica Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Official advertising

Arriving earlier than the 17:00 hrs opening, the four of us quickly replaced the cardboard captions with the new Foamcore ones, which looked much more professional.

Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition, Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Mark helping with the hanging (Photo credit: Neil Lintern)

We waited, then waited some more…opening time came and went, and finally opening speeches came, over an hour late. What’s the hurry, this is Italy…

Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition, Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Another view (Photo Credit: Mark Del Greco)

All in all, my speech was only a couple of lines thanking everyone for their support and coming along, by which time the alcohol had worn off and I was pretty nervous.

Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition, Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Candid shot (Photo credit: GBProduction Photography)

Mental note to self, I really should practise public speaking.

The Macaroni Chef was absorbed with such passion whilst making his Cavatelli with smoked Caciocavallo in a tomato sauce, topped with a reduced red wine sauce – delicious!

Pasta, Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Macaroni Chef Academy (Photo credit: GBProduction Photography)

Just a little snippet of the scrumptious end result although he didn’t look pleased with this dish…

Music, Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Great live music! Sax player: Alessandro La Neve

The exhibition’s finale

With excellent feedback on opening night, the exhibition ran for ten days and finished on the 15th January.

As Palazzo Sersale is only open from 10:00-12:00 hrs Monday-Friday, and by appointment on Saturdays and Sundays, I managed a couple of private viewings.

Exhibiting in Italy has been an interesting exercise and I know what not to do for my next exhibition here…think I will organise one for March/April this year, so, as they say, watch this space…

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Italy at Image Earth Travel.

Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
WWI tribute in Piazza Pianolungo, Cerisano
Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Cerisano Alleyways
Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Not a great photo with my compact camera at night but this demonic guttering over a front door caught my eye.
Cerisano, Calabria, Italy
Celtic iron symbol graces an ancient doorway

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44 responses to “Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition: Cerisano, Italy”

  1. wetanddustyroads Avatar

    WOW! How amazing was this Nilla? Your own exhibition in Italy … now, that calls for a few more gin and tonics if you ask me 😉. Congratulations (although I’m a couple of years behind), but I do think this is quite an achievement … as for your photo’s … they do exactly that: Speak to me when I look at them (especially those of the people’s faces).

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Such lovely feedback – thank you – very humbling! 🙂
      Yes, it was very special holding an exhibition in Italy. I also had one in Brisbane a while back, which I haven’t written about yet and have been invited to several group exhibitions – one in Amsterdam.
      My problem is that I don’t sit in one place long enough to hold more. The first one in Brisbane was quite nerve-wracking as you never know how your work will be received and they say that you never break even on your first exhibition. Surprisingly, I did break even, so very happy! 🙂


  2. Roasted Romance Avatar

    Congratulations! What a fabulous exhibit and post!!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you, very kind of you to leave me a comment. 🙂

  3. Wallpaper HD Avatar


    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you – it was a lot of fun!

  4. da-AL Avatar

    many congrats, Nilla – love the whole thing but most of all the candids of you, with your happy smile 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Da-al, that’s so sweet!

  5. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Congratulations in order. Both the solo expo and the setting. And from a distance, I think I would have liked to come and look. But I was somewhere on the other side of the planet. (Random thought: I have to graduate to people photos… Hmmm. Difficult) 😉

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you!
      Ha, ha it is indeed the other side of the planet. I started taking people photos at around 10 years’ old and is just something I love to do, but much prefer candid shots.

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        It is a talent. I’ve never been very good at taking people shots in the street. Bashfulness maybe? I feel like I am “invading” their privacy. I have of late started to ask permission. And after a few seconds, people forget about the camera. Need to do it more. 🙂

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        That’s the struggle I have with candid vs. portrait.

        I think that once someone knows there’s a camera on them although they ease up, for me, it’s never the same as when it’s candid. They are two very different genres as you know.

        With a portrait, it’s also about making the person feel at ease and comfortable so you get the best shot. Sometimes I see a person’s face and I know what the result will be in the frame so I sit and wait for ages, until I see an opportunity…voyeur perhaps? 😉

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        All photographers are voyeurs I guess. But then I think we are also memory seekers. What is the 19th century photo of my ten-year old grandmother in India but memory or history? 🙂

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Exactly and I love to freeze snippets of time for future generations.

      5. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Sounds like a good plan. Buon finale di settimana. 🙂
        (I was reading your “about” again. Can’t believe the redtape Italians submit you too, when their borders are cracking open…)

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thank you and same to you!

        Yes indeed, especially as my father was from this very region. Had another spanner in the works lSt November, which I’m still trying to resolve. I’ll have to start another blog or add this event as another chapter in my very long current blog: Citizenship blues: The Italian Job

  6. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    Complimenti! 🙂 The exhibit was amazing and your photos are so beautiful! I had a lot of fun at the opening night. Can’t wait for the next one! We’ll prepare your next speech way more in advance haha!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Lulu! It was great to have you there and thanks for making the effort to come on opening night, especially when you were so ill.

      Ha, ha…I’ll need preparation months in advance. 😉

  7. gillmorris Avatar

    This is fabulous Nilla. The venue alone is just stunning and your photographs are fantastic. I had similar thoughts and feelings when I did my exhibition from waiting and stressing about the quality of the prints to selecting 11 photos out of 60. I found the selection process was very difficult for me because what I think is a good picture doesn’t necessarily mean someone else will feel the same about it. So we have to go with our subjective thoughts. And the measuring of the place beforehand is a must do! You tend to forget how big or small it is after you have left! Really well done on your exhibition, you must feel very proud! I look forward to your next one. Have a fab weekend x

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Gill! Yes, the venue is stunning. Calabria is full of stunning ancient architecture.

      Glad I’m not the only artist that deliberates over selecting photos but also printing quality. Once I measure up a space, I also take photos, which I do go back to when deciding on photos – this helps.

      Have a wonderful weekend! x

  8. Francis.R. Avatar

    Congratulations, the beauty of your photographs go along with the sober beauty and atmosphere of the palazzo, everything and everybody looks quite elegant. For what I can see in the photographs it is actually a nice legacy of what you saw, experienced and traveled. The nervousness of the speech was because the persons, but not from your beautiful art. n_n
    To me photography is a hobby, never exhibit or sold a photo, and I edit just to show what I saw, not what cameras saw (my cameras save very few times match what I saw), but mostly I correct white balance, tint, colors hues, illumination and contrast. If that falls under digital art actually then I wouldn’t feel bad, just seems each person draws a line about where is the boundary between photography and digital art.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Francis for your great feedback; opening night was memorable!

      You are right…each person/photographer has their own view on what is a photograph or what is digital art. Like I said, I don’t mind either but for me (and this is my personal opinion) an art piece needs to be presented as either a photograph or digital art.

      I don’t think that the post-production that you do pushes your work across to digital art so much. Anyway, if you’re happy with playing with post-production, then what does it matter? What also happens these days is that many photo competitions mark you down if you haven’t done any/enough post-production to a photo, which to me is very disappointing.

  9. Aixa Avatar

    Congratulations, Nilla 🥂🍾 Your exhibition looks like it was full of great portraits from your travels. It’s true that photos are becoming too digitized because everyone has to keep topping each other. I prefer realism. Portraits or street photography are always interesting on their own because they tell a story.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Aixa!

      I find that many photos these day look a little too fake for me – colours are just too ‘created’. Also, I can tell when photographers take a photo in colour then convert to B&W in post-production, it’s not the same as actually taking a photo in B&W during the shot.

      I’ve never been into post-production and why I want to keep my photos real for people. 🙂

      1. Aixa Avatar

        Yes, I heard another photographer on a podcast say something similar. She said she does a little cropping and no more than 5 seconds of adjustments.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha that sounds like me – maybe I’m too lazy! No, the real reason is I don’t like to mess with a photo. I’m old school, a photo is taken with the eyes not created with software. 😉

  10. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

    Nilla, what an excellent backdrop for your exhibition!! Of course, your photos are wonderful and good on you for getting out there and doing it!! So many people with talent are so afraid of rejection or lack the confidence!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Suze, thanks for your feedback!

      The Palazzo is a stunning piece of Calabrese history and very lucky that I was given this opportunity by Lucio Di Gioia (Mayor of Cerisano).
      Yes agree, many artists are frightened of rejection but for me, it’s a way of learning what people truly feel about my work, whether good or bad. Art is always subjective and not everyone will like your work – artists need to accept the feedback and move on.

      1. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

        You are right Nilla, and thank goodness we don’t all like the same art! How boring would that be!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Absolutely…boring indeed.

  11. Christie Avatar

    Such wonderful news Nilla, great job! I wish I could stop for a visit:) I know you have awesome photos!!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Many thanks Christie!
      I hope to hold another exhibition in March/April this year but possibly in Cosenza city. Need to decide on a theme first. Any ideas?

      1. Christie Avatar

        Nice!! Here we have lot of snow this season, so “winter” is the main theme in Toronto LOL, but I guess Spring would be such a great one (especially for March/April), when everything comes back to life:) Happy planning!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar


        We haven’t had any snow in Cosenza this winter…yet. Not sure of month yet, but we’ll see. 🙂

  12. Patty Avatar

    Wow, Nilla. From what you have shared here…those photo’s are worth exhibiting! Not familiar with this concept at all, is it just to share your art with the public, or is it also about selling it?

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Patty for your feedback!
      Typically, exhibitions are a great way to gain exposure for your art but also to sell art, which is what I’ve done in my past exhibitions. This exhibition in Italy was more for exposure and hopefully to sell photos in the future, although several people approached me to buy some pieces. 😉

      1. Patty Avatar

        Ah, thanks for explaining. I always figured, it works like that. And it’s not a surprise people approached you. Is it hard to ‘let go’ of your art? Since, I can imagine each one is special to you?

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Alway good to understand how things work and thank you again for your kind words!
        Yes it is hard but I like the idea of people appreciating my art in their own homes across the world. I also like the fact that it makes people want to travel and explore the places of the art that hangs on their wall…if that makes sense?

      3. Patty Avatar

        That makes perfect sense!
        I also like the idea of people creating their own stories, using their own imagination, viewing art 🙂

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Very true and I think it’s important to make up your own story; who cares really what that story is…

        During exhibitions, I do provide a title and a short description for each piece. From a sociological point of view, I find it quite interesting to watch people’s behaviour at an exhibition. I notice that people are drawn to a photo and study the image first, then will read the caption, before looking back at the photo again.

      5. Patty Avatar

        Interesting indeed. (Why I love to sit at a terrace and watch people)
        I read today, that people are 80 till 85 visual, eh how do you say that, oriented?…meaning, pictures we remember faster and longer in compared to text.
        No wonder, social media evolved so fast…

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I also love to people-watch but take candid photos. 😉
        Yes, I’ve read the same thing and learnt that at uni during Communications Design. I’m one person that finds social media an evil necessity and a little tedious as it requires too much time spent on it when I should be concentrating on taking photos and writing.

      7. Patty Avatar

        Well…I love it made communications with my neighbors (who often become friends) about it, but is time-killing.
        Diner time over here…enjoy your evening, dear Nilla. XxX

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Also true, it is a great way to keep in contact.
        You too Patty. Enjoy your dinner and catch you another time. Ciao x

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